Pet food start-ups and the pet food market have experienced a huge boom in recent years. It’s now almost as dynamic as the human food industry, with some similar trends driving innovation and changing consumer habits. More and more people are shopping for pet food in a similar way that to how they shop for themselves driving a growth in vegetarian and vegan pet food and insect-based protein.
With the UK set to be home to a total of 16 million meat-free Brits at the beginning of 2023, it’s no surprise that we continue to pass on our lifestyle preferences to our pets. We see them as valued members of our family, and entitled to many of the luxuries we enjoy, including spa days!
Many food producers, including smaller ventures, are now responding to this demand by creating new innovative products or extending their range. They’re serving up everything from premium gourmet to raw pet food, vegan meals and doggie desserts. There’s even a Ben & Jerry’s range for pups now! Here are five other examples of trail-blazing pet food start-ups who are at the forefront of change.
Raw pet food and supplements
Helping dogs “live their best lives” is Lithuanian start-up and pet wellness brand Zenoo, who has enjoyed huge growth since they were established in 2019. Having secured a number of investments, the company now wants to make its innovative freeze-dried raw dog food available to more pets worldwide.
The founders of this promising start-up created the brand to develop products for pets suffering from various health problems. They offer not only raw pet food but have also found a niche within the supplements market, which is huge within human health. Their offer are products that are fresh and natural. They also offer a subscription model sending products directly to owners, something which is also fast rising in popularity.
In recent years, raw pet food sales have increased by at least 15% annually, with people viewing it as a more ‘natural’ option and advocates citing benefits such as glossier coats, healthier skin, increased energy, and improved immune health.
Rise in veganism
In 2022, a report by The Vegan Society found that nearly half of those in the UK living with cats or dogs would be interested in purchasing vegan food for their furry friends.
OMNI was launched in May 2021 as the UK’s first vet-backed plant-based food company for dogs. Founded in 2020, the start-up produces dog food that it says are 100% plant-based and nutritionally-complete, i.e., packed full of protein (derived from pea protein, brown rice, pumpkin), thus appealing to consumers who are not only environmentally-conscious and sustainability-driven but who also want to seek out the healthiest options for their pets. The company recently raised €1.3 million in funding as it looks to expand its product offering with treats to target specific health issues in dogs, such as skin issues, joint problems, and anxiety.
Home-cooked meals for dogs
The recent rise in awareness about health and nutrition is also fuelling the rise of human-grade pet food. London-based Butternut Box is an innovative fresh food delivery start-up offering personalised dishes made of human-quality meat and vegetables for dogs. Their unique offer consists of home-cooked meals that are made using ‘fresh ingredients’ and which are produced to fit the nutritional profile of each dog, according to its breed, sex, weight, and exercise regime. The company was founded on principles of taste-testing its own dog food, ensuring that if it’s good enough for dogs it should also be good enough for humans – combining both the promise of health with high quality. Pegged as the “UK’s Hellofresh for dogs”, the company recently secured £40 million in funding to expand its operations.
Insect-based pet food start-ups
The insect-based food phenomenon is expected to reach $4.63 billion by 2027.
Polish pet food startup HiProMine is a company dedicated to recycling organic waste into nutrition products for animal farming, plants as well as pets. The company uses insect-based proteins such as black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) to develop a range of products, furthering its mission to provide healthy food options for pets while reducing the environmental burden associated with traditional pet food production. The company recently secure PLN26.1m in funding to expand its offer as a leading supplier of insect-based protein to the European pet food industry.
It describes its flagship product HiProMeat as an “unrivalled source of unprocessed, natural and raw animal protein” that offers health benefits to cats and dogs.
Veterinary care and pet food
Bringing the veterinary care and pet food market together, Supertails is an innovative pet health startup that provides veterinary telehealthcare as well as home delivery of pet care food and other products. Based in India, the company was founded in 2021 and has already raised $2.6M in funding from a range of investors, including Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, Saama Capital, and Tej Kapoor.
With a leadership team comprising doctors and entrepreneurs with expertise in the pet care space, their unique offer is a combination of a vet and pet care business with food products and supplements that promote health and wellness for pets. In India – as in the UK – pet ownership has experienced a huge boom, growing to 32 million in the past few years. This has been driven by millennials and GenZ, who are today shaping pet market trends, placing increased emphasis on the importance of health and environmental benefits when it comes to buying food for their favourite companions.